What Does a Food Engineer Actually Do?

Looking for a change in career? Have you considered becoming a Food Engineer?
Christopher McFadden

Food engineering is one of the most multidisciplinary fields in engineering. It combines engineering principles with other fields like microbiology, physical sciences, chemistry, and more.


Food engineers are responsible for ensuring the safe and efficient processing, packaging and delivery of food to every store shelf in the world. Needless to say, it is a vital job for the entirety of humanity.

So if you like food, and engineering, why not consider a job in Food Engineering?

food engineering nibbles
Source: Ted Eytan / Flickr

What does a food engineer do?

Food Engineers take engineering principles and apply them to the storage, processing, and distribution of food materials and other bio-products.

They are the people responsible for ensuring that store shelves remain stocked with arrays of canned, bagged, and boxed foodstuffs that are nutritious and safe to eat and drink.


The field overlaps a lot with other food-related disciplines, and they often work closely with food scientists and other food technologists.

Whilst food scientists and food technologists focus on the study of food as a science; food engineers focus more on the packaging technique, processing, and food quality aspect of the supply chain.

Food engineering is a vast field that encompasses everything from machines used in the manufacturing plant to storage systems on transport trucks. For this reason alone, it is definitely worth a look.

Practitioners are required to have a solid grounding in engineering, as well as, have working knowledge of chemistry and food science in general. 

food engineering meat
Source: Winfried Mosler/Flickr

Food engineers, in effect, make vital contributions to the food supply chain. 

Their duties include, but are not limited to: 

- Designing the processing, handling, and packaging of food inclusive of storage equipment and systems;

 Scale-up of prototype food processes, machinery, and equipment;

- product/process research and development;

- regulation and protection of the public health; and,

- engineering and technical sales 

Most Popular

To date, in the United States, there are around 13,500 registered food companies. Each of these requires, either directly or in a consultation role, the expertise of food engineers.

food engineering plants
Source: Sky Greens

Examples include Anheuser-Busch, Gerber, Nabisco, Coca-Cola, H.J. Heinz, Nestle, Blue Bell, Dean Foods, Fresh Express,  Kellogg, PepsiCo. Int., Borden, Frito-Lay, Kraft General Foods, to name but a few.

How much money does a food engineer make?

Like any discipline in any industry, pay scales are dependent on your geographic location, and level of experience. 

According to glassdoor, the average base income for Food Engineers in the United Kingdom is in the order of £30,000 per annum.  But these are for contractor or starter level positions. 

Other websites, like PayScale, indicate that the average (mean) salary for job titles like Food Process Engineer, is around $72,000 per year. Food Process Engineers also tend to benefit from bonus payments, profit sharing, and other commission payments as part of their income package.

The lower and upper pay scales tend to range between $53K and $100K. Of course, your personal remuneration will depend entirely on your level of skill and negotiating skills.

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron